August 13, 2015; Manteo, North Carolina:
By Capt. Dave Lear
Fishing wasn’t on fire in today’s 2015 Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament, but it wasn’t smoldering, either. Several boats did some serious fin-whippin’ and set personal marks, while others held their own against a very talented field of contestants. It all comes down to the final day of fishing on Friday to determine the eventual winner. At this point, no boats are really out of contention.
Sea I Sea had the hot hand on Thursday, racking up 900 points with nine white marlin releases. With two fish from the previous day, Sea I Sea is now in the lead going into Friday. The boat scored three doubles to quickly pad the points total.
“The whole crew did a heck of a job today, amazing,” says Don Mills owner of the 66 Viking, which splits time between Pirate’s Cove and Morehead City, North Carolina. The veteran team trolled naked ballyhoo amid scattered grass and wind-blown foam to tally their whites.
“It feels really good,” Mills replied when asked about all the upside down billfish flags signifying releases flying from the outrigger lanyards. “We were fortunate today, but tomorrow is a new game. We’ll do the best we can and pray for some good fish.”
Owner Craig Johnson on Bi-Op-Sea was still undecided about Friday’s strategy after he and his crew released four billfish today. Naked ballyhoo was also their bait of choice.
“Everybody is doing the same thing,” he explained. “We were pulling a couple big lures for blue marlin but had no action on them. It wasn’t too exciting. We had calm seas, blues skies and a pretty day. We caught a few fish. It’s always a good day out on the water.” Johnson feels they need at least nine fish to be in the daily money on Friday and he’s hoping to return to the docks with 10 or more release flags flying.
Owner Chauncey Krahenbill, with his son Jason at the helm of Sally Girl, a 57 Ricky Scarborough, stayed in the pack with three white marlin releases on Thursday, for a total of 900 points.
“We’re still in the hunt and we’ve got one more day. Hopefully we’ll catch at least 10 tomorrow,” Krahenbill says.
The lady anglers showed their competitive spirit on Thursday as well. Eighteen-year-old Alexis Woodington, fishing aboard her family boat Desperado, a 60 B&D Boatworks, took the required dunk in the marina after releasing her first blue marlin. The resident of Virginia Beach said that fish was easy compared to her fight with her spearfish. Alexis also released a white marlin for her first ever grand slam. “Of course I’ll be back,” she said with a quick laugh when asked if she’d return to fish next year’s event.
PamElla Simmons, fishing on her custom Omie Tillet boat Salvation also had a memorable day. She came back to the dock flying four white and one blue marlin release flags, appropriately tinted a rosy shade of pink.
“This crew is like my family. I started tournament fishing on my boat eight years ago and I just love it. It’s a lot of fun.”
A total of 104 billfish were released by the 56-boat fleet on Thursday, including 79 white marlin, 14 blue marlin, seven sailfish and four spearfish. Anticipation scored a boat super slam by releasing a blue, white, sailfish and spearfish.
So, appropriately enough, it’ll all boil down to the final day. Will the bite turn on again for double and triple hook-ups? Or will it take a steady, single by single-fish assault to put one boat over the top?
The momentum is building. And the finale is at hand.